LETTER: Protect local mature forests

I would like to bring to your attention potential consequences of your planned weakening of the existing tree conservation laws...

An open letter to Abbotsford council:

I would like to bring to your attention potential consequences of your planned weakening of the existing tree conservation laws within our city, especially as it applies to Sumas Mountain.

My understanding is that Abbotsford already has green space protection ordinances that are far less stringent than other communities within the Lower Mainland of B.C. It is also my understanding that certain council members, along with the initiative of certain developers and realtors within the region, have prompted a relaxing of the existing tree protection laws to allow for further commercial development.

Commercial success in terms of land development does not necessarily correlate with a successful community. One has to consider the repercussions of further indiscriminate land development, as we risk tarnishing our reputation as a ‘city in the country,’ and become like any other community. Why then would medical professionals, or other professionals for that matter, want to come to Abbotsford as opposed to another community?

As medical practitioners, we understand that the health and well-being of our patients is partly dependent on the social and environmental health of our community. Many factors, among them a sustainable natural environment, contribute significantly to our health. Protecting mature trees and forests is an essential part of developing a long-term, sustainable and healthy Abbotsford.

I have the support of my medical colleagues in requesting that you reconsider your current proposal to relax the tree protection laws within our community, and stop the plan to cut trees in pristine areas for commercial development. As you are aware, there are pockets of old growth forest on Sumas Mountain, which should be something of pride for us to preserve, and not represent quick money for a few individuals.

Development is an expected part of a growing community;  it’s more a matter of how and where that development occurs that affects us all.

Habitat cannot be replaced by a few landscaped trees planted by a developer on some commercial property. We do not want to be viewed historically as the people who destroyed an environmental legacy for self-interests and monetary gain.

Do not wait until the environment has been destroyed before you decide that you want to protect it. After mature forests have been cut, it is too late to consider an environmental sustainability plan.

Don Burke, MD